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President Ebrahim Raisi took his oath of office in the Majlis-e Shura-ye Eslami (parliament) on 5 August in the presence of Judiciary chief Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei and Expediency Council. Raisi’s credentials as president-elect were endorsed by Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the days before his inauguration – an event that highlighted many of the weaknesses of Iran’s international position, but also its potential to improve the situation.

Iran
Free

Isolated by its erstwhile ‘GCC-3’ allies, Qatar gave some very public thanks to those who had stuck by it following the boycott launched by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in June 2017 when, in the first half of October, it invited senior officials and companies from the likes of Iran, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan to Doha to share a stage with Qatari government ministers.

Qatar
Free

Given his position as the only moderate standing in the presidential election, Masoud Pezeshkian was not expected to win the race to become the Islamic Republic’s next president. Having jumped that hurdle, he now faces a daunting set of domestic and international policy challenges.

Iran
Free

British Prime Minister David Cameron was back in the UAE for the third time in as many years on 16 November, this time heading to Dubai just ahead of the 17-21 November Dubai Airshow (see page 14). There was immediate political gain to be had from the UAE’s deals with Airbus, worth more than $60bn. A380 wings are designed and assembled at UK sites in Filton and Broughton, part of an Airbus programme worth around $24bn to the UK economy; Cameron has made considerable noise about revitalising relationships with the Gulf, and was able to conclude that the new deals resulted from this effort.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

The Gulf Co-operation Council states are in a more delicate and divided condition than they have been for decades – a set of circumstances which presents significant opportunities for Iran. However, understanding how and where Tehran might try to exploit their discomfort is as difficult as ever. An analysis of Iran’s understanding of its key enemies’ weaknesses and the Iranian military machine’s most relevant capabilities might help.

Iran
Free

Prince Turki Al-Faisal has again shown his capacity to express Saudi policy concerns that go beyond the platitudes that too often pass for political discourse in the Gulf, this time discussing concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and interference in regional conflict zones. Turki speaks with authority,

Saudi Arabia
Issue 840 - 07 November 2008

GSN view: 'Military action' against Iran

Free

There was a lull in the speculation over the potential bombing of Iran by the United States or - more likely - its ally Israel, with the world transfixed by Barak Obama's victory in the US presidential election. Talk of significant offensive action against Tehran became intense during the late summer, with two theories circulating on the eventuality of a strike to knock out Iran's nuclear facilities and perhaps other targets. One theory was that the outgoing Bush administration would sanction a strike as its last neo-conservative hurrah; and, two, that Israel would be emboldened to act. In September, UK daily The Guardian, added to the debate by publishing details of documents showing how Washington had sought to rein in Israeli hawks who were ready to attack.

Iran
Free

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad garnered moral backing during his mid-January voyage around five of Latin America’s ‘anti-imperialist’ states, but he seems to have come away with little material support to counter Iran’s growing crisis of international isolation – underlined on 23 January, when European Union foreign ministers agreed on the much-anticipated embargo on Iranian oil imports (effective from 1 July).

Iran
Free

Bahrain’s legally registered political groups are working to shore up their vote and persuade their constituencies they remain worthy of support ahead of National Assembly and municipal elections scheduled for this year, probably November. Much attention has been paid to parties supported by the Shia majority, led by Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, which holds 17 of the 40 Majlis Al-Nawab (Chamber of Deputies) seats.

Bahrain
Free

The decision by President Donald Trump to effectively refrain from intervening in a meaningful way in Middle East affairs – upending decades of United States policy – continues to have significant ramifications for the Gulf. As former UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sir John Jenkins wrote recently in Arab News: “We are watching the political geography of the Middle East being reshaped before our eyes.” Events in recent weeks bear out his point, particularly in relation to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia
Free

Bahrain’s National Dialogue concluded on 30 July with three concrete recommendations and a lot more woolly statements presented to King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa (GSN 905/4). If robustly implemented, these measures could eventually lead to more representative, tolerant government and greater transparency, in a system where a wider range of Bahraini voices are heard and officials are brought to account for abuses (with ministers potentially facing Kuwait-style ‘grillings’ in parliament).

Bahrain
Free

The three-year, slow-burning conflict in Bahrain remains a minor headache to most international governments, in a region full of thumping migraines. But as l’affaire Malinowksi reminded us this month, for all the West’s efforts to coax the Al-Khalifa into submission with the vocabulary of “longstanding bilateral relationships” and “strong partnerships”, the problem of Bahrain will not fade away.

Bahrain
Free

A rare strike by Kuwaiti oil workers began on 17 April, with members of the Union of Petroleum and Petrochemical Workers protesting against changes that could lead to cuts in salaries and other benefits (see Politics). It was notable that only Kuwaiti workers went on strike: foreigners showed up for work as usual – which makes sense given the vulnerable position of overseas labourers in Kuwait, as in other GCC economies. The strike highlights the difficulty Gulf governments face in making changes to their bloated public sectors, at a time when they are struggling to deal with growing budget deficits.

Qatar
Free

The narrative for Iran’s passage from Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s modernising, economically rational nuclear programme of the 1950s-70s to one capable of delivering an atomic bomb has been marked by persistent delays and a profound lack of intelligence – and understanding – of players’ intentions.

Iran
Free

The internet has made news more opinionated than ever. With the tools of propaganda so close to hand, every story has become a chain of claim and counter-claim, of accusation and denial. On partisan news channels, in press releases emailed to inboxes across the globe, in the deceptively informal forums of social media, it is possible not only to peddle one’s version of history, but to spread it wide. Nowhere is the conflict of recorded histories more evident than in countries where governments seek to keep a lid on freedom of expression.

Bahrain